Upper Magnetawan River Canoe Trip Report, May 18-22, 2017

Ahmic Lake – Wahwashkesh

Total Distance 30 km

Upper Magnetawan White Water Canoe Trip 2017 Ahmic Lake to Wahwashkesh
Upper Magnetawan River Route 2017

Participants*: Ahnold, The Mad General, Big Daddy Marchand, The Real Garry, Captain Kolla and Mic Dundee

*The pictures and monikers below may even bear a resemblance to people you know – your eyes deceive you. These are not the people you know.

Day 1: Thursday May 18, 2017

Toronto – Parry Sound – Ahmic Lake – Britt – Ahmic Lake

The logistics of this trip were not easy, and much praise needs to be given to Big Daddy Marchand and The Mad General for their tireless logistical work, both in terms of setting up the motel and boats, as well as the shuttle pattern that brought us all together. The General, Marchand, Gary and Captain Kolla left Toronto before noon and began their hopscotch marathon across the north by first collecting the boats from an obscure outfitter somewhere in the hinterlands of Parry Sound. Our hope and expectation was that we could avoid long stretches of highway driving with canoes on the cars by locating an outfitter closer to our put-in. After much searching we found a guy, but going forward it is advised to just use the known commodity outfitters near Parry Sound, or even Port Sydney, and take the extra time on the road. Once the gear was dropped at the Motel – again an solid find by The Mad General, Marchand and the General drove an additional 2 hours back west to Highway 69 and up to Britt, our expected exit point. Ahnold left Toronto just before 3, and gunned it to Britt directly, almost running out of gas near MacTier. Not smart. In any event, by 6:30 Ahnold had collected Marchand and The General on the bridge overlooking the Mighty Mag outside of Britt, and doubled back to Parry Sound and then on to Ahmic.

Little did we three know that this would be the first, last and only time we would gaze upon these tantalizing waters in the year 2017.

Day 2: Friday May 19, 2017

Knoepfli Inn at the mouth of the Magnetawan River to Maple Island 13km

We woke up at the Quiet Bay Log Motel off the 520 to crisp blue skies and the promise of a glorious day on the Mighty Mag. The Motel is a great home base for this section of the river. The rooms are spacious, the food, especially the strudel, is authentic, and there are hot tubs. The owners are also amenable to allowing trippers to leave their cars on the property, and the kitchen staff will even come and fetch you from the side of the road for a small price. 

We paddled to the mouth of the river at Knoepfli Inn from the back yard of the motel which exits onto Ahmic Lake. This is much easier than portaging down the 520, or bothering with the cars. The Inn is a 5 minute paddle around a small rounding of the shoreline and in lower water you could even consider running Knoepfli Falls and using it as a slingshot to start the river. This spring, however, water levels were running almost 3.5 times the average cubic meters per second so the falls were not an option, even though the Mad General took a really, really hard look at it. There is a landing dock to the right of the bridge, and a path that takes you up over the 520 and then down to a murky put-in river right.

Mic Dundee had a parole meeting so Ahnold had to solo for the day. This turned out to be more challenging than originally thought. The Mag is a beautiful river that cuts hard across the Canadian Shield before emptying into Georgian Bay at Britt, and we found out very quickly that in high water any existing shoreline was swallowed by the rising current. Even in the lower water the bones of the Shield rise bold and stark from the edge of the river, but given the deluge that we were facing, even when the river did collide with the rocks there were no eddies to be found, nor boulders to hide behind. The narrow nature of the river and the valleys of rock also created a secondary challenge for us. On the map, areas where the river narrowed but were not designated as rapids, turned into swifts and R1s. Marked, but unnamed rapids on the map became R2s, and those rapids that actually had a name became harbingers of doom. In short, we were in for one hell of a day.

The first 2.5 km were uneventful and the high water acted in our favour for the first and last time keeping us moving at a rapid pace despite Ahnold paddling solo. Both sides of the river at this point are dotted with residential development, so be prepared for that fact, despite the location and history of the Magnetawan River speaking to isolation, you are surrounded at every turn early on. Case in point is the first set of rapids named Poverty Bay Chute. It is a magnificent death trap and curls left around a sharp outcropping of shield due to a sudden narrowing of the river and elevation drop, and someone has been fortunate enough to build a cottage right on the plateau overlooking the set. Any thought of running this requires serious skill and the proper conditions, and your best bet for both information and security is on river left – the same side as the cottage. There are several fierce ledges and holes that will break bones, and there are limited options for eddying out. The walls of the Chute are sharp and slick, so there is only one way out. The owner (good people) allowed us to, nay, insisted that we scout the set along the edge of his property on river left lest our demise sour his weekend, and even showed us the portage trail that he had tamped down which cut across his lawn. We took this option and in teams of 2-3 simply lifted / dragged the boats across the fresh cut grass. It was early days and the boats were full of meat and booze, but the actually distance is no more than 300 meters.

About 300 meters downstream the real adventure began. On the topographic map there is a quick bending of the river left just where the residential road comes close to its end. In low water this set might be considered a swift or R1, but for us it was a healthy R2. We exited river right and due to the boulder debris that dotted the edge of the sloping hill were able to scout the upper section. There are three significant ledges that constitute this set. The first is river left, and the water will draw you naturally in a long arching tongue away from this towards the right shoreline. At this point you need to thread a centre right line that will take you through some powerful standing waves generated by the second ledge and maintain a balanced downriver mark to either avoid or power through the massive hole / rock at the very bottom. For some reason Ahnold went first in the solo canoe, and without any safety team in place, a comedy of errors ensued. Ahnold managed to navigate through the first drop unscathed, but his line was thrown off in the standing waves generated by the second ledge. He took on water and didn’t have enough speed to clear the third hole. The boat swamped. Ahnold managed to get his gear to shore, but the canoe was swept down a second set of rapids hidden just around the corner. Ahnold jumped in and swam the set in pursuit of the canoe and the beer bag attached as a buoy. There would be no repeat of the Stiegl incident on the Petawawa. This was death before dishonour territory.

Upriver, the moment Ahnold bailed the team was called into action. The Mad General led the charge and he and the Real Gary peeled out lithe and proud into the river reminiscent of the x-wing fighters on their Death Star approach.  Captain Kolla and Big Daddy Marchand followed in hot pursuit screaming “gold leader one this is red leader one – on approach!” At this point it is best to understand the unfolding of events from the point of view of Ahnold. The second set is an R1 that is a mess of standing waves and churning twisters driving you down the middle of the river. The issue is that if you take on any water in the first half and are unable to eddy out and bail, it is very hard not to swamp when faced with this second leg. Having swam the second half of the set and chased the canoe and beer another 500 meters downstream, so much so that he could hear Sellers Rapids Siren Song in the distance, Ahnold managed to make it to shore half drowned. He paddled back upstream, parked the canoe, and crawled up the left hand shoreline to the point in the river around which the two sets bent. His intent was to raise a beer in triumph and inform the group that he wasn’t dead, but instead witnessed the remnants of the Mad General and the Real Gary’s canoe float by. They had avoided Ahnold’s rock, but the volume of water and the Real Gary’s 17 drone cases had swamped them. Captain Kolla and Big Daddy, who had actually survived, were frantically bailing their canoe in an attempt to get to their fallen Rebel Pilots. Alas, the Mad General and the Real Gary were swept down the set the same as Ahnold, and Captain Kolla and Big Daddy, despite their courageous pursuit, also ended up bailing in the bottom half. Thus, the entire team was obliterated by this corner of the river.

Seller Rapids is runnable in lower water according to various trip reports. However, in high water it is, in the words of another tripper, “a motherfucking death trap”. We portaged river right, and unlike Algonquin or the more established Provincial Routes, the Mag does not have the seasonal traffic that tamps down established walking paths through the forest. As a result, a 500 meter portage on paper feels like 1.5 km. Once again, due to the acute angular nature of the rock rising out from the river, there was no flat path to follow. Instead, we had to crest two large exposed slabs of Shield before finding a Billy Goat trail through the pines that eventually led to an exposed plateau of scrub grass, fallen rock and sparse trees that marked the basin outwash of Sellers. We were pretty busted at this point, but the Mad General came through with homemade prosciutto and cheese sandwiches. The bugs were starting to come out in droves, and the longer we sat and cooled down the more the pain set in, so we slammed what food and drink we could and set off with the hopes of an easier back half to our day.

We enjoyed about 1.5 km of peace before Ross Rapids came into sight. Just before the entrance to the set there is a small island on the right hand side and then a sharp narrowing of the river. We stopped to scout river right and were presented with two options. Ahnold, Big Daddy and Captain Kolla opted to line the set skirting the right hand shore and taking a more conservative approach. The Mad General and the Real Gary, to their credit, took a shot at running it down the left side of the river, following the main tongue into the standing waves and avoiding the ledges and holes that mined centre right. Although they took on water, they had a successful run and gave the team a much needed confidence boost.

The next 2 km were uneventful. The river continued her heaving course downstream, but aside from the lurching boils of undercurrent you wouldn’t consciously be aware of how fast you were traveling on the back of this churning liquid. This can be dangerous as there is a very technical, unnamed set hidden in the narrows at the end of this stretch of river, and although we were alert, the high water turned the first 200 meters before the set into a very fast moving swift. We hugged river right and aimed for a cluster of exposed rock to eddy out alongside to scout, but the speed of our turn, coupled with the slick rock and lack of shoreline to mount, caused Ahnold’s boat to be knocked off the wall by an incoming canoe. As Ahnold drifted backwards into the waiting gullet of the river even the birds stopped singing and an expectant silence descended over the forest, as though there was an understanding that violence was about to happen. There had been no scouting report to read, nor opportunity to even view the set, thus Ahnold’s comrades sat in stunning silence, mouths agape, as he began to be pulled backwards down the set. Ahnold managed to pivot the canoe just enough to point the bow downstream and catch the main tongue that was flowing centre right. At the bottom of this tongue there are a series of curling waves generated by a series of pillows that dot river right and a large ledge river left. Ahnold hit these slightly off-balance and off line, and took water. He would have managed to at least exit the rapids in once piece had he not been pushed too far right. This forced him into direct contact with the final ledge, and in what can only be described as literally canoe breaking, he spiked off the massive rock waiting in the gullet of the hole. It is worth noting that in all my years canoeing and falling out of canoes, I have never seen anyone launched from their canoe due to impact. It is important to understand that from the top of the set 3 massive haystack waves were visible, but their true size was only realized once Ahnold disappeared from sight between waves 1 & 2, only to reappear skyward at the top of 3, and then fully airborn off the third clearing his gunnels by 2 feet. The sound track of this madness was: “I’m backwards, I’m backwards, okay, I’m broadside, I’m broadside, okay I’m straight on, I’m straight on, okay…Oh NO! I’m fucked!” Not only that, the bow seat punctured the right side of the canoe and remained lodged in the fiberglass with at least 2 inches of wood protruding, the bottom of the canoe cracked and split along an eight inch gash, and one of the thwarts was severed. Once again Ahnold managed to collect his gear, get it to shore, and then chase down the canoe. 

The Mad General, witnessing the preceding acrobatics, was drawn to the fire both out of duty and desire, and cried ‘paddle’ – and let slip the dogs of war. If the Real Garry protested, his screams of sense were not heard over the Mad General’s cries for glory. In retrospect, the Mad General didn’t know if what he heard was the thwart snapping or if it was Ahnold’s femur, but either way, he was not going to let only one man share in this glorious display of insanity. Somehow, the Real Gary and the Mad General made it through, but had taken on so much water that they barely eddied out river right. Ahnold had managed to crawl his way back up river right, lone paddle and rescued Stiegl in hand, dried bile on his wetsuit, when the final boat of Captain Kolla and Big Daddy, complete with gear, floated around the bend of the first rapids and into the waiting arms of the second, in a massive yard sale. They too, hearing the call of the wild, had leaped head first into the set and experienced the joy of flight. They spilled out into the lower basin no worse for wear, and Ahnold, the Mad General and the Real Gary, now fully upright, completed the extraction process. 

We limped forward for the final 1 km to Cody Rapids, which are situated under an iron bridge that marks the entrance to this set. Cody Rapids are a straightforward push down the middle, but the challenge at this time of year lies in the fact that once you enter this mini chute, there is no way out. Any options for eddying out, or even finding a foothold once inside the mini canyon, are next to none. The rock walls stand perpendicular to the water and rise 30 meters straight up. The size of the Mag turned the 200 meter run into a churning, bubbling cauldron of whitecaps and massive standing waves. In empty boats, or with lighter boats, or with a boat not broken, or, most importantly, with a less broken spirit, this would be a very fun set. The Mad General wanted to take a shot, but we erred on the side of caution and instead sucked up our final, brutal portage of the day, taking the steep footpath up the right embankment, crossing the bridge, and then following the road around the corner to the first opening that lead us down a private driveway past two abandoned cottages to the water’s edge.

At this point the mental game became our biggest challenge. We were worn out physically and emotionally, and fortunately the heavy water gave us a reprieve at Porter Rapids, the final set of the day some 100 meters below Cody. Porter was washed out, most likely due to the fact that the river valley was becoming less pronounced as we approached Maple Island and the rugged terrain that had soaked, smashed and scorned us for the better part of the day was giving way to broader, open swaths of forest and marsh. We quickly realized that our camping options were limited. The land east of Maple Island, as described, offered no suitable campsite, and the area in and around Maple Island was completely populated with cottages. Mic Dundee radioed in that he had been given time off for good behaviour, and that we would meet him in one hour’s time over the culvert on the 520. Some chatter emerged as to whether we should get a motel for the night and heal our wounds, but several members of the group considered this treason, and after much yelling, and some luck, we discovered from some local fishermen that the only good campsite lay on a peninsula half a kilometer west of the Island.

With some reprieve finally in sight, we floated through our sunken dream past the Village of Maple Island. Ahnold waited for Mic Dundee, who lifted spirits with a 24 case of Stiegl and some steaks, while the rest of The Team located the campsite, but not before the Real Gary managed to t-bone his canoe just for memory’s sake in the culvert under the highway in no more than 6 inches of water. The culvert episode elicited some much needed laughs from the team, but we were happier still when we found the campsite, as described, opposite the 520 culvert on a point of rock ringed in pines with a wind to keep the bugs at bay. Wondering where Ahnold and Mic Dundee were, the Real Garry decided to launch the drone to have a look-see. The robot greeted our wayward brothers mid-lake, like a scene out of “The 100.”

One would think that this would have been enough for one day, but it wasn’t. We made camp, attempted to fix the boat using duct tape and a knife, to which Mic informed us that “that’s not a knife”, and the Real Gary almost lost his drone to a dying battery while taking a group photo from 30 feet up. A fire perimeter was set up for Ahnold, who in response to soloing the entire day and spending more time swimming than canoeing, got obliterated. Big Daddy sharpened some knives and promised to protect us from “his people”, The Mad General googled the mechanics of a broken thwart while holding most of the group in contempt, Captain Kolla put on his Tevas, red jumper and seemed no worse for wear, the Real Gary fixed his toy while regaling us with the misadventures of the day, and Mic Dundee stayed up all night stoking the fire and crushing beer cans. Everyone was happy to eat and not move.

And this was only the first day on the water.

Day 3: Saturday May 20, 2017

It was a tough morning all around. The physical toll of being initiated by the river the day before left us stiff and pulverized. Fortunately the low pressure system that was being called for was still one day out and for the time being we had clear blue skies and a light breeze to keep the bugs off and our gear dry. We broke camp in decent time all things considered and spent the next 2 km leading up to Short Bay carefully monitoring Ahnold’s boat and the extent to which it was taking on water, now carrying 2 people. As it turned out the team effort from the night before had proven successful, and despite having 4 alpha males all trying to be project manager, in the end our collective knowledge defeated our collective egos and the boat floated.

For us there was a special significance to Short Bay. Our dear friend Jesus Gladstone’s father had an off grid cottage through the 90s and 00s on the south westernmost corner of the Bay. Throughout high school and university we would voyage up the shore of the Mighty Mag at all times of the year to either escape into madness for a weekend, or float by her shores in the hot summer, or even to farm, as Jesus’ brother Daniel of Arimathea practiced one summer when he filled my minivan full of horse manure that he bought from Big Daddy’s people somewhere off the 69, along with some smokes. Jesus wasn’t with us on this voyage – for all the right reasons as he had just had a baby girl, Eliru, so it was bittersweet to float by a place rich with memory in the absence of its creator.

Just past the cottage we paddled to Upper Burnt Chute and fortunately were met with some luck. For the first and only time in the past 24 hours the set matched in person what was on paper – a solid R1, requiring some awareness of the pillows, but ultimately a centre ride down the tongue. This would be our last win for the day.

Just over 1km below Upper Burnt Chute is the much longer and more treacherous Lower Burnt Chute. From this point to Cameron Island some 5km ahead the river descends surgically into a very thin, but powerful ribbon of white water that cuts aggressively through the Shield. The brief glimpses we were given of the narrowing canyon walls from Cody Rapids or Seller Rapids the day before are magnified in this stretch of river. The water is faster, the rock walls higher, the forest thicker, and the elevation drop greater. Lower Burnt Chute was not an impossible task, despite these elevated obstacles. It can be divided into three sections. The top is the most difficult and opens up with a series of ledges that in high water are impossible to run. The second section opens up into a flatter run of water that is littered with technical obstacles, but the river is pumping due to the first section, so timing, angle and reactive response needs to be accelerated or else you’ll find yourself on a one way ride to the bottom. The final section is a magnificent tongue of water that ejects you into a small bay through two pillars of rock; exit gatekeepers to this part of the river. We exited river left and decided to portage our gear around the first section. As before, there was no trail, so a 300 meter skirting of a small section of white water turned into a painful battle around the rising hills, through thick forest while battling the vicious blackflies that were out in droves due to the stale air, thickening grey skies, and dank underbrush.

There is a small muddy enclave just beyond the first section of the rapid where boats can be loaded and docked. The plan was to peel out into the mid section of Lower Burnt Chute, hold to river left thus avoiding the main channel and boulders, eddy out river left just above the rock pillars, and then decide whether to line or shoot the final drop out of the canyon. Big Daddy and Ahnold were the first up, and we underestimated the power of the water. Immediately we were dragged towards the middle had to make a desperate attempt to eddy out to the left. In the process we spiked a hidden pillow and heard the boat crack. Without hesitation Ahnold and Big Daddy vacated the boat not even attempting to use leverage to lean downstream and pop back into play such was their concern that their additional weight might actually snap the boat in half. They made it to shore with most of their gear, but the boat and a few personal items were swept past the pillars. Big Daddy stayed with the gear while Ahnold, once again, pursued the flotsam and jetsam of his life down through the mouth of madness. The Mad General and Mic Dundee set sail next and also had a tough run. Trying to get to the middle of the current away from the jagged shoreline they were caught off kilter fought a desperate battle to keep the churning waves from breaching the gunnels until, at last, they capsized and also washed out into the bay. The Real Garry and Capitain Kolla, who had the good sense to line a few more meters below the aforementioned put ins, avoided some of the trappings that befell the previous two boats, and although they still took on some water, managed to exit the set in one piece.

At this point the Magnetawan River gave back but a drop of what she had taken. Below Lower Burnt Chute a local paddler out with his dog and waiting for a hunting friend happened to be in the water. He collected our boat, bags, and paddles and prevented what could have been a significant disaster.

What followed was perhaps the hardest 2 hours any of us had experienced on a river. Needles Eye Rapids, some 1 km below Lower Burnt Chute, became our Hellheim. Needles Eye Rapids is a continuous R4-R5 that never yields, obliterating rock, wood and metal for an unrelenting 1.5 km. There is no portage trail, and so you are faced with a decision as to which shore line, right or left, you wish to ascend, cross, potentially get lost in, and then descend broken on the other side. Big Daddy and Ahnold were the first out of their boats and made an attempt to navigate a trail river left. After almost 30 minutes wandering through bugs and bush, they realized that the best option would be to follow the faint imprint of game trails, travel as a convoy of 6 men to avoid getting lost, and aiming for the first patch of calm water we could find from up on the hilltops. The team geared up, and what followed was, as Captain Kolla put it “2 hours of suck”. Everyone was a champion and lived, crawled, died, panted, heaved, screamed and fought their way across this brutal piece of Canadian real estate. To their credit, Captain Kolla and The Real Gary found enough juice to complete 3 trips. Mic Dundee, otherwise not too sure about the testicular fortitude of Canadians, concluded that we were all “fucking nutters, mate”.

 As we sat exhausted under a haze of black flies, in the stale air of the roaring rapids, pouring sweat but unable to breath, we had to face some harsh realities and make some tough decisions. Our original goal was Britt, some 50 km away, and with the open waters of Wahwashkesh still looming, a canoe that was now even more fractured and clearly taking on water, as well as an unknown number of portages and sets still looming on the back half of the Magnetawan, and a low pressure system that promised 20 mm of rain the next day, we reached a decision, albeit contentiously, to find a camp site, hunker down all day Sunday, enjoy what time we had left, heal our wounds, and then strategize an emergency exit on Monday at the Wahwashkesh Marina located inside Bennetts Bay. Much like that “hoary cripple, with malicious eye” from Robert Browning’s Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came a woman appeared and told us that on the opposite shore, seated atop the outwash cliffs of the Needles Eye, we could find an established campsite. She added in passing, that the site was favoured by Girl Guides and so we might be able to survive the night there. With one final argument and one final push we found, on the opposite shore, behind a graveyard of dried trees and sticks, a small path that led to this window to the west.

With much duress, but a sense of accomplishment, we set up a small tent city, complete with Big Daddy Marchand and Captain Kolla keeping us all dry through a brilliant series of tarp shelters, and enjoyed a feast of striploins, scotch, GORP and various Stiegl products – the diet of champions.

Day 4: Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rest Day.

We ate. We drank. We stayed dry. The bugs weren’t bad. We slept. We flew drones. We recovered. We were so ragged that we preferred to drink rain water off the tarps than do the march up and down to the river. We made the right decision. Old bones in a dry month.

Day 5: Monday, May 22, 2017

The greater part of the lower pressure system and heavy precipitation had passed by the time we got up. Again, Big Daddy and Captain Kolla’s tarp engineering was genius and kept not only the majority of the tents, but also our gear, relatively dry. Shout out also to Mic Dundee who, rain or mist or dampening dark, kept the fire stoked all through the rest day and into the morning.

The short portage back down the hill path to the driftwood graveyard reminded us very quickly that despite one day of rest, the prospect of another series of portages would be hard to swallow. Even the short 50 meters to the shore inspired enough pain to shoot cortisol through our bodies. We loaded up and set off with some mild trepidation in anticipation of Lovesick Rapids some 3 km downstream – the last of the sets on this portion of the Mag. Adding to the fun was the fact the Ahnold’s boat was now taking on water. The repair job from two days ago had done its job, but the pillow rock from Lower Burnt Chute had been too much for the old Royalex. If Lovesick was anything other than a clean shot, the boat would break.

Fortunately the Mag gave up her dead lightly. Lovesick Rapids presented itself as a final gate post, the twin doors of night and forgetting carved of smooth rock welcoming us on to Wahwashkesh Lake. Although we scouted her – mostly out of trauma – in the end it was a very straightforward jaunt down the main tongue, through the curlers, and on to the final ribboning out of the Mag as she slowly widens her girth over 2km leading up to the eastern edge of Wahwashkesh.

There is one final namesake before formally entering the Lake, and that is Deadman’s Narrows. The name would seem exaggerated, but this final squeeze between the main shore and Deadman’s Island needs to be marked. As the outwash of the Mag converges one last time and collides with the main body of the lake, for about 100 meters as you cross the threshold, the current, waves and wind form a miniature storm, and you can very quickly be thrown off balance and bounced around. We came through this unscathed, but it was a surprise bit of spray, swirl and work before the road home.

Past Deadman’s Narrows it is approximately 4 km to Bennetts Bay and Wahwashkesh Lodge. The first 2 km follows the shorelines on the south that protrudes in a long, rounded peninsula. It is important to follow the line of the land right to its extreme point, since there is the temptation to turn in on the first opening, which is nothing more than a dead end bay. From the farthest rounded point, aim south and stay in the middle of the channel. To the east is Indian Narrows which you want to avoid and just to your left at 2 o’clock is another faux bay, called Traux Bay. If you are lucky local boats will be streaming in to Bennetts Bay which is the only put in and take out on this half of the lake, so follow them.

Wahwashkesh was not our original take out point, so the adventure was not quite over yet. Those in the group that were entrepreneurs tried to organize a ride from the Lodge back to any point of civilization. The local owner couldn’t do it, but Ahnold, Big Daddy and the Mad General, out of necessity, decided that they would start the long walk to the 520 and hope for some luck. Fortunately, two dudes in a flat bed hauling old furniture caught up to us some 20 minutes down the road, and in the spirit of the north carried us in the back to the highway. From there, the Mad General contacted the Swiss Hotel, and the cook, who for $50 bucks, came and found us on the edge of road, and carried us back to where it all began. From there is was merely a matter of time, pavement and shuttling cars. Captain Kolla, The Real Gary and Mic Dundee, in our absence, found a shack to keep warm in by the edge of the Bay, and in the 3 hours or so that we were gone, managed to finish off the last of the whiskey. And the Real Gary almost lost his drone, again, over the Bay.

Of note, the boys back at the shack, in our absence, also ran into a Blackfeather group doing the exact same route that we had intended to do. As a point of madness, or comparison, depending on your bent, what we had just done in 3 days, Blackfeather did in 5. Moreover, what we had intended to do in 4 days, Blackfeather does in 6-7 days, and changes guides half way through.


The Magnetawan kicked our asses – some harder than others, but everyone on this trip was a warrior god and found a way, despite the pain, fatigue and mental strain, to lift each other up and complete the small tasks that, when strung together, allowed us to overcome the larger challenges over this river. Before breaking for our respective homes, we dedicated ourselves to finishing what we started, and so spring of 2018 will be Wahwashkesh to Britt – and glory

1 thought on “Upper Magnetawan River Canoe Trip Report, May 18-22, 2017

  1. Pingback: Lower Magnetawan River Canoe Trip Report, May 18-23, 2018 - For Whom The River Rolls

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